California Woman Made $1 Million Smuggling Immigrants Across Border

California Woman Made $1 Million Smuggling Immigrants Across Border

A warning sign for smuggling near the United States-Mexico border in San Diego, Calif., on Oct. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

11/16/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

A Southern California woman pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that she managed drivers who smuggled immigrants across the Mexico border into the United States, and made at least $1 million from the operation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego announced Nov. 14.
In her plea agreement, Blanca Estella Gomez, 47, of El Cajon near San Diego, said she coordinated with people in Mexico who smuggled the immigrants across the border. She directed drivers to pick up the immigrants in the U.S. and told them where to take them. She also told drivers how much money to collect from the migrants, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Ms. Gomez also admitted that one driver working for her transported more than 75 migrants from October 2021 to April 2022. That same driver collected and delivered more than $1 million in payments to her, according to her plea agreement.
She was charged with conspiracy to transport aliens, a federal offense.
“Human smuggling is a serious and dangerous offense,” Sidney Aki, director of field operations for Customs and Border Protection’s San Diego field Office, said in a statement.
Ms. Gomez is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 2, 2024. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
California has 10.5 million immigrants, the most of any state in the nation, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. In 2021, more than half were naturalized U.S. citizens, and about 22 percent were undocumented as of 2019, the institute reported.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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